Better Together “Bash Street Kids” Team Resurface and Cause Mischief 3 Years After the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum
On 22 May 2018 “Policy Exchange” hosted a major conference in London considering the future of the United Kingdom. Keynote speeches were delivered by:
Ruth Davidson, Michael Gove, Arlene Foster, Brandon Lewis, Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy and Theresa Villiers.
A report on the conference and addresses (for anyone interested in gaining an awareness of the thinking of right wing politicians) can be found at:
Alistair Darling and his friend Ruth
What Is Policy Exchange?
The “Exchange” is a London based, Tory think tank, created in 2002. It is described as “the most influential think tank of the right”. Key Figures:
Archibald John Norman
Commonly known as Archie Norman, is a co-founder of “Policy Exchange”.
A businessman and former Tory politician, he is best known for cutting 5,000 jobs and creating enormous profits and growth for Asda which he then sold to Walmart for £6.5 billion, giving shareholders a 1,000 per cent return.
He became Chairman of Marks & Spencers in September 2017 and true to form very soon set about cutting back on employee benefits by abandoning the “deferred benefits” scheme.
He followed up 6 months later announcing the closure of up to 100 stores in the UK reducing staff by around 7,000.
And that is just for starters. Much more to come since Norman is quoted as saying that the retailer has been “drifting” and promising too speed up changes.
The company has an annual revenue of nearly £11bn. Rich pickings for Mr Norman and his business associates.
As the Tory government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy lead he represents the Tory government on the “Red Tape Initiative” board.
Maude’s long and often controversal parliamentary career as a Tory MP started in 1983 and ended in 2016 when he retired from active politics.
He was made a “life peer” in 2015.
Together with Archie Norman, he co-founded Policy Exchange and was employed by him as a non-executive director of ASDA.
Nicholas Edward Coleridge Boles:
Commonly known as Nick Boles, a former flatmate of Michael Gove, he is a hard line Tory MP and was the first director of “Policy Exchange.”
He is also a signatory of the statement of principles of the ultra right wing Henry Jackson Society Project for Democratic Geopolitics.
Following his election as Mayor of London Boris Johnson appointed Boles as his Interim Chief of Staff.
Smith, a senior Conservative Party strategist, was a founding member of “Policy Exchange”.
It was he who introduced the infamous, morally-focused Tory “back-to-basics” policy, that John Major preached to the nation in the 1997 General Election campaign that ended in disaster for the Tory party.
He has also acted as an adviser to several senior right-wing figures, including the late Sir James Goldsmith and has written speeches for a number of leading Conservative MPs and fulfilled the role of speech writer and advisor to David Cameron.
In the early Eighties, Smith worked for the Adam Smith Institute, the free-market think tank, while pursuing a career in the Federation of Conservative Students as a prominent member of a Right-wing, libertarian faction. Indeed, he was elected in 1985 as an FCS vice-chairman.
However, it transpired that his claim to be a student at Napier College was erroneous and his election was declared null and void by Conservative Central Office following an inquiry.
Smith’s later exploits included being arrested by the police for allegedly threatening to kill FCS member Toby Baxendale, although he was released after spending a night in the cells, and working for Right-wing millionaire David Hart’s Committee for a Free Britain.
He started the “Fever Club” (feverparties.com) in January 1998 with a debauched launch party in a Central London penthouse.
The 2,500 worldwide members included captains of industry, celebrities and multi-millionaire tycoons.
Critics accused the secretive organisation of being a sinister networking organisation.
Fever Party orgies for the rich and beautiful are still hosted throughout Britain and there are additional parties over the summer in New York and Ibiza.
Fever receives over 400 applications for each party and the vetting process is extremely strict with an upper age limit of 40.
In 2003 Smith was forced to cut his links with Fever by the Tory party head office.
He is married to Munira Mirza.
Mirza was recruited from Policy Exchange by Boris Johnson and was appointed , Advisor for Arts and Culture Policy of the Greater London Authority under the Conservative administration.
She is associated with the libertarian anti-environmental LM network which advocates policies benefitting corporate interests with a significant focus on influencing youth. A report on the activities of the secretive network can be found at:
A hardline Brexiteer, and direct descendent of King Edward 2, Villiers is the Tory MP for Chipping Barnet.
She has a perchant for submitting weird and wonderful expense claims.
She claimed almost £16,000 in stamp duty and professional fees on expenses when she bought a London flat, even though she already had a house in the capital.
She is accused of courting media attention and has been described as “divorced, dogmatic and dreadful.”
The Grenfell Tower Fire Disaster Debacle and the Unbridled Power of Policy Exchange and Its Offshoot the Red Tape Initiative
The Grenfell Tower fire broke out on 14 June 2017 at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of public housing flats in North Kensington, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, West London.
It caused at least 72 deaths, and over 70 injuries. Occupants of 23 of the 129 flats died.
Even before the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster had begun, it looked like a stitch-up, its initial terms of reference set so narrowly that government policy remained outside the frame.
An inquiry that honoured the dead would investigate the wider causes of this crime. It would examine a governing ideology that sees torching public protections as a sacred duty.
An example. On the morning of 14 June, as the tower blazed, an organisation called the “Red Tape Initiative” convened for its prearranged discussion about building regulations.
One of the organisation’s tasks was to consider whether rules determining the fire resistance of cladding materials should be removed for the sake of construction industry profits.
what is the initiative is and who runs it?
It is a perfect cameo of British politics. A government-backed body, established “to grasp the opportunities” that Brexit offers to cut “red tape” – a disparaging term for public protections.
It is chaired by the Conservative MP Sir Oliver Letwin, who when launching the Red Tape Initiative on 19 April 2017, said:
“We need to grasp the opportunities that Brexit will give us to cut red tape in sensible ways. And we mustn’t lose any time doing that.
So the point of the “Red Tape Initiative” is to identify “early wins” that can command cross-party support in both Houses of Parliament immediately after we leave the EU.”
Letwin also claimed that; “the call to minimise risk is a call for a cowardly society”.
It is confirmed therefore as a forum in which exceedingly wealthy people help decide which protections should be stripped away from lesser beings.
Among the members of its advisory panel are Charles Moore, who was editor of the Daily Telegraph and the chair of an organisation called “Policy Exchange.” He was also best man at Letwin’s wedding.
Sitting beside him is Archie Norman, the former chief executive of Asda and the founder of “Policy Exchange“. He was once Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells – and was succeeded in that seat by Greg Clark, the minister who now provides government support for the “Red Tape Initiative”.
Until he became Environment Secretary, Michael Gove was also a member of the “Red Tape Initiative” panel. Oh, and he was appointed by Norman as the first chairman of “Policy Exchange”. (He was replaced by Moore.) “Policy Exchange” also supplied two of Letwin’s staff in the Conservative policy unit that he used to run.
“Policy Exchange” is a neoliberal lobby group funded by dark money, that seeks to tear down regulations.
The Red Tape Initiative’s management board consists of Letwin, Baroness Rock and Lord Marland. Baroness Rock is a childhood friend of the former Tory chancellor George Osborne, and is married to the wealthy financier Caspar Rock.
Marland is a multi-millionaire businessman who owns a house and four flats in London, “various properties in Salisbury”, three apartments in France and two apartments in Switzerland.
The “Red Tape Initiative” is a self-serving clique of old chums, insulated from hazard by their extreme wealth, whose role is to decide whether other people (colloquially known as “cowards”) should be exposed to risk.
Letwin’s initiative appointed a panel to investigate housing regulations. It includes representatives of trade unions and NGOs, though they are outnumbered by executives and lobbyists from the industry. And there – surprise, surprise – is a man, called Richard Blakeway, from Policy Exchange.
“Policy Exchange” financed by opaquely funded groups and individuals has imposed policies on Britain designed no only to empower corporations and the very rich, but actively to disempower everyone else, through austerity, outsourcing and privatisation.
There is an urgent need for an independent commission whose purpose is to decide when inquiries should be called, what their terms should be, and who should chair them. Governments should have no influence over any of these decisions.
A blinkered inquiry ordered by a government that chooses charges, judge and jury, threatens to clad the origins of a great crime, shielding their embarrassing ugliness from public view. We cannot, and must not, accept it.
Author: George Monbiot, of The Guardian.